Soccer star Fabio Cannavaro retires

Italian soccer star Fabio Cannavaro announced his retirement on

Saturday, five years to the day after captaining his country to the

2006 World Cup title.

The 38-year-old Cannavaro said medical checkups in Italy in June

and this month revealed his right knee would not hold up for the

second and last year of his contract with Dubai club Al Alhi.

”I’m very sad. Football is everything for me in my life,”

Cannavaro said. ”It’s not a simple thing. Everyone says it has to

come. But when it comes, it’s a decision you have to face. I came

back to Dubai to continue training. Unfortunately, the medical

examiner didn’t permit me to continue.”

Cannavaro is the only defender to be voted FIFA world player of

the year, winning in 2006 after Italy conceded only two goals at

the World Cup. He played in four World Cups in a 19-year

professional career, and holds the Italian record with 136

international appearances.

Cannavaro, who served as a ballboy in host Italy’s 1990 World

Cup loss to Argentina, made a name for himself with Parma between

1995 and 2002, helping the central Italian club to the 1999 UEFA

Cup title.

Cannavaro signed with Al Ahli last year after Juventus wouldn’t

extend his contract. He also played for Real Madrid and Inter

Milan.

Along with Azzurri teammates Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta,

he was a member of Italy’s golden age of defenders. Short in

stature for a center back at 5-foot-9 1/2, Cannavaro was an

excellent man-marker and composed in possession.